So, last week I talked about the gaming community, and how many different members/types are present in it. This week, I’ll go over various stereotypes that are often used when discussing gamers, and whether female gamers are truly “diamonds in the rough”.
-Gamers are all socially awkward.
One of the biggest myths is that gamers of every kind are social outcasts, with games being their only link to companionship. Not true. Though I have met a few “awkward” gamers in my day, they weren’t that way due to their love of games. More often, they just fall somewhere on the Autism spectrum…or are very shy…or are younger kids who have trouble making friends. But even these people are the minority of gamers, as the vast majority of the ones I’ve met are boisterous, charismatic, and have no problems interacting with others. Still don’t believe me? Look at Wil Wheaton, Mr. T, Felicia Day, and Vin Diesel…all gamers.
-Gamers are all overweight.
I will admit that I’m overweight by about 10 lbs. I know gamers who are overweight by 85 lbs. However, I also have gamers that I interact with on a daily basis who could get knocked over by a strong breeze…or that I’ve beaten in arm wrestling. Some of us look like Batman, some of us look like Bruce Banner, and others look like the Blob. It takes all kinds, and “all kinds” is certainly what you find in such a large segment of people.
-Gamers are all unhygienic.
Okay, this one (sadly) has a little truth to it. The fact of the matter is that there ARE gamers who didn’t pay attention in health class and think their 19 year old body needs as much deodorant as their 10 year old body. Namely, none. However, the community has taken steps to combat this, and does a pretty good job. Everything from convention attendees being asked to bathe before they can return, to stores “jokingly” handing out soap as random door prizes, to tournament judges giving round loses for intense body oder…Slowly but surely, it is getting better for this minority of gamers.
-Gamers can’t get girls.
Not only does this myth assume that every gamer out there is male, but it’s untrue anyway. Of the 22 people I work with in my gaming store alone (7 women, 15 men), only I am single. The remaining 21 are all in committed long term relationships, 8 of which are REALLY committed (aka married). If I take a look at my customer base, I do see some singles…but not many. Doing some quick estimates using my database plus what I know of my customers and see on their Facebook pages, I’d say that about 10-15 in every 100 customers is single. And that’s with me counting people who have simply never told me their relationship status, so these numbers could be even lower. Unfortunately, I have no idea how many of them are happily single like me vs how many want to be in a relationship, but the point is that relatively few gamers “can’t get girls”. Which leads me to my next topic…
We’ve seen them in magazines, on TV shows, in movies, and they’re a standard meme in pop culture: the elusive “gamer grrl” or “girl gamerz”. A chick who lives for FPS, only speaks in L33T, and will graciously remind you…again and again…that she’s a girl and yes, she plays games like the one she just kicked your ass at. These women exist. I have met them at the gaming table fluttering their lashes at the DM or on Xbox Live talking about how much they get hit on just because their profile pic is of their cleavage.
Just so you know, dear reader, these are not what I’d call a gamer. They are, however, attention whores. The games they are playing are vastly different than the ones everyone else is…grrl gamers seek validation for their looks, or want to feel “special”. It’s the same chick who memorizes football or basketball facts and goes to every local game, but only so she can be hit on. In other words, these women pretend to like activities with a high male following so they stand out more. I’m telling you now, that if someone wants special treatment in a subculture, they are using it to gain popularity…they don’t actually care about the subject.
According to various gaming magazines/websites, females make up anywhere from 30-42% of the videogame community. So far, I’ve been unable to find consistent numbers for other types of gaming like RPGs or miniatures, but my personal observations put it at a 1:20 ratio of female to male gamers. In my own group, there are 2 of us women, and 6 guys (including the DM). So yes, it’s safe to say that the male sex is still the majority of gamers, regardless of game type.
But honestly, who cares?
The way I look at it is that I’m a PERSON who enjoys painting miniatures, buffing my Rogue with cool weapons and feats, and slaying evil in Kingdoms of Amalur. My breasts don’t make me more capable of rolling dice. By the same token, the fact that I possess a vagina doesn’t mean I suck at Left 4 Dead. Telling someone they just got beat “by a girl” not only adds gender to a previously unsexed gaming experience, but insinuates that the other player should feel bad…because everyone “knows” women are horrible gamers.
Grrl gamers won’t let up until everyone in the room has a complete understanding that they are female. They pout when they don’t get their way, they are disappointed that they can’t get a discount for being a vagina-owner, and they enter tournaments wearing skimpy skirts and low cut blouses in an attempt to distract their opponents. Whereas normal female gamers are just dressed normally and wondering when the next round starts.
Are there idiots out there who think that no woman ever plays a game of her own volition? Of course. But are they any worse than the Grrl Gamerz who act like they invented the cure for cancer simply by pressing X and LT at the same time? Hardly.
The point is, the gaming community as a whole is growing exponentially. Cons such as Origins, Pax, DragonCon, Gencon, E3, ComicCon and others are experiencing such growth that tickets for admission are selling out by day 2-3.
With so many members, do we really have time for the in-fighting of Female vs Male? Do we honestly have to keep pushing back against the stereotypes that non-gamers throw at us? Or can we finally just grab some snacks, sit down, relax…and game?
I know which one *I* prefer to be doing. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I do believe that my N64 is calling.